News

Honored by the GT Alumni Association, Marshall is the chief of staff to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Under Secretary for Science and Innovation.
Four College of Sciences alumni have been selected as members of the 2024 class of 40 under 40.
Berry, a Chemistry Ph.D. student, is one of 40 students in the U.S. to receive the Department of Energy Computational Science Graduate Fellowship awarded to emerging leaders in computational science.
Nine early-career professors will pursue cutting-edge climate mitigation research during the upcoming year as part of the initiative.

Experts in the news

Groundbreaking research is shedding new light on how biofilms grow — using physics and mathematical models. Biofilms grow everywhere — from plaque on teeth, to medical devices, to the open ocean. But until now, it’s been difficult to study just what controls their growth. In a new study published in Nature Physics, researchers from the Yunker Lab in the School of Physics, including Lead Researcher Aawaz Pokhrel and Associate Professor Peter Yunker, leveraged physics to show that a biofilm’s geometry is the single most important factor in determining growth rate — more important than even the rate at which cells can reproduce. Since some research shows that 80% of infections in human bodies are caused by the bacteria in biofilms, understanding how colonies grow has important human health implications, potentially to help reduce their impact in medical settings or industrial processes. (This also appeared in Phys.org and Dental Review News.)

Nature Physics

On the timescale of sensory processing, neuronal networks have relatively fixed anatomical connectivity, while functional interactions between neurons can vary depending on the ongoing activity of the neurons within the network. In a paper published in Nature Communications, a team of researchers, including School of Mathematics Assistant Professor Hannah Choi, hypothesizes that different types of stimuli could lead those networks to display stimulus-dependent functional connectivity patterns. The team analyzed single-cell resolution electrophysiological data from the Allen Institute, with simultaneous recordings of stimulus-evoked activity from neurons across 6 regions of the mouse visual cortex. The work reveals unexpected stimulus-dependence regarding the way groups of neurons interact to process incoming sensory information.

Nature Communications

Over the past few decades, earth scientists have grappled with the concept of solar geoengineering: cooling the rapidly warming planet by injecting particles high into the atmosphere to reflect sunlight, for example. Now, researchers are proposing a new way to battle the effects of climate change that could prove even more costly and controversial: glacial geoengineering, designed to slow sea level rise.

A white paper, released on 11 July by glaciologists, calls for boosting research into daring plans that would protect vulnerable ice sheets by building flexible barriers around them or drilling deep into them to slow their slippage into the sea.

These untested ideas are stirring up a backlash among glaciologists, some of whom view them not only as outlandishly expensive and logistically flawed but also as a distraction from the problem of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In an article in Science, scientists, including School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Associate Professor Alex Robel, discuss the white paper and the distinction between supporting geoengineering and supporting its research. “I think the reality is that most people who will end up engaging in geoengineering research will do so because it increases the likelihood that geoengineering will actually happen,” says Robel.

Science